The past week has seen mounting anger cast across social media as the revelations behind Council actions come to the surface. The first outcry followed the publishing of a photo by Wet and Windy Photography of the MiniGolf and Batemans Bay pool being demolished. Rather than celebrate the demolition as a start towards something new many making comment across social media were learning for the first time that the 50m pool was being replaced by a 25m pool, that the hydrotherapy pool would be in fact a warm water pool and that the proposed 500 seat theatre was now only 350 seats.
For the community members who had attended the old Bowling Club and made submissions on what they would like to see in the new 'community precinct' that was to include both the bowling club and pool sites there has been additional anger brewing in the realisation that the promises once made of a new community centre that included exhibition space was now nothing more than a meeting room with a power point for an urn. Once offered "like for like" as an enticement to give up the existing Batemans Bay Community Centre and move into the new precinct the community are now aware that Council has other plans by redirecting the community to other venues instead citing that these are under utilised. Council now appear to be bloody-minded and indifferent to the mounting public protests and a 1000 signature petition guided by some strange idea that the property is classified Operational and they can do as they please. Unfortunately it appears that Council staff have forgotten who they are employed by and who they work for - the community of ratepayers who pay their wages. The Council staff offer "the large majority of users at BBCC will be relocated to Hanging Rock Function Centre, Mackay Park Function Centre, and the Batemans Bay Library meeting room. The Batemans Bay Child and Family Centre, Hanging Rock Basketball Stadium and Malua Bay Community Hall will also be utilised, although to a lesser extent." There appears to be no apology for backing out of a promise to the community made by Councillors to DO NOTHING with the centre until after the Mackay Park Centre was opened. Today saw the first of a wave of organised protests by the community voicing their anger at Council's intention to lease the Community Centre with a later option to sell.
Above and below: The "Get your hands off it" campaign began today with this banner being displayed by community members across the Shire.
Council have confirmed that the Batemans Bay Community Centre has around 15 community groups that hire a room at the BBCC on a weekly basis. In 2018 the centre had 1482 bookings that gave it an annual income of $71,935 with an expenditure (minus depreciation) of $56,435. Council have advised that the written down value for the Centre as reported by Council in its annual 2019-20 AAS27 report that the value of community centre complex including building, carpark, pathways is $1,169,996 while the written down depreciation for the Centre as reported by Council in its annual AAS27 report 2019-20 accumulated depreciation = $702,798 The groups who regularly use the Centre are Meals on Wheels, a Tai Chi provider, U3A, Shugyo Martial Arts, South Coast Stompers, Goshin Ryu Karate, a Speech Pathology provider, South Coast Colleges, AA Wednesday Group, The Legacies Group (AA), Mystery Bay School of Music, ESC Embracing Babies Program, Batemans Bay Line Dancers and a Dance class provider. Council now wants to see these groups move on so it can lease out the Centre, built for the community by the community from funds that were raised by the community.
Above: the campaign is building with the "Get your hands off it" banners now appearing across the shire being passed, like batons, from one group to the next. A spokesperson for the Batemans Bay Community Action Group told The Beagle "Enough is enough, this Council has made promises and they have broken those promises. This is a community owned asset that is used by the community. If Council staff go ahead with this then let it be on the heads of the councillors who support the staff recommendations". "This IS an election issue and our Batemans Bay councillors including the Mayor better listen to what their community are saying instead of listening to the staff. It was us who voted them in to represent us. And they are nowhere in sight. Its Shameful. "